Acting South African Police Service (SAPS) national commissioner Khomotso Phahlane on Friday said plentiful allegations are being made against police officers and foreign nationals in different communities across South Africa but without substantive proof of the wrongdoing.
“If you go to Atteridgeville, or even here in Pretoria West, in how many of those houses which were burnt [by protesting South Africans] did they find drugs? I am not sure if you [media] have checked that. That is what we continue to be faced with — allegations and more allegations,” Phahlane said at a media briefing in Pretoria.
“We call upon everyone who has concrete information about criminality anywhere to bring that to the attention of the police. If you do not have confidence in those [police officers] that are on the street, every police station has management. Tender the issues with management at the stations.”
At the media briefing, Phahlane was flooded with questions over the drug trade and prostitution, which sparked the violent protests by different South African community. Several protesters accuse police officers of being in the payroll of the drug dealers who they say have become untouchable.
Phahlane said the SAPS had closely monitored the march organised by the Mamelodi Concerned Residents, which was scheduled from Marabastad, west of the Pretoria CBD to the Home Affairs’ Hallmark Building in the city centre.
“We have noted with concern that, despite pleas from government, random acts of violence, damage to property, stoning of police members and looting have been reported during the course of this morning,” said Phalane.
“Although the group from Mamelodi protested peacefully, from early this morning a group of people from Atteridgeville blocked roads, burnt tyres and threw stones. They also, without authority to do so, marched on the central business district where they were dispersed after there was a confrontation with another group, apparently consisting of non-South Africans. This march follows periodic violence and looting over the past week.”
Phahlane said over the past 24 hours, police had arrested at least 136 people in connection to the skirmishes.
“They were arrested in connection with various crimes including the looting that took place in Atteridgeville and Pretoria West this morning [on Friday]. We would like to thank all law enforcement officials deployed today and over the past week for professionally fulfilling their constitutional mandate to maintain peace, safety and stability,” said the police chief.
“We also caution those engaging in violent and unlawful acts that the law enforcement agencies of this country will not tolerate such conduct and will act, within the confines of the law, to bring those responsible to book. Those who are inciting violence will also face criminal prosecution.”
On Friday evening, police were rushing into the filthy and crime riddled Brown Street, in Pretoria CBD, where a group of South African youth had pounced on a shop operated by Somali business-people, accusing them of peddling drugs.
“These people are killing us. They must all leave our country in peace. We do not want them here anymore. If the police don’t remove them, we will kill them. This country will never be peaceful for Somali, Nigerian or Pakistani. We will kill them,” said one self confessed drug abuser.
The group of protesters accused the Somali traders of plunging them into drug addiction. When police searched the premises and found no drugs or weapons, the protesters bowed that they would search the premise themselves.
– African News Agency